Israel has yet to receive an official invitation to the US-led economic summit in Bahrain that is just two weeks away, Channel 13 reported Sunday, and key players Egypt and Jordan have yet to say whether they will attend.
The gathering — intended to focus on ways to bolster the Palestinian economy — is the first major stage of the administration’s much-anticipated peace proposal. But it has faced a series of hurdles, with several Arab states refusing to confirm their attendance, and the Palestinian leadership boycotting the event and urging others to stay away too.
A senior Israeli official told Channel 13 that during their meeting on May 30, the visiting White House senior adviser Jared Kushner explained to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Washington is waiting for additional “yes” responses from key Arab nations before extending an official invitation to Israel.
According to Channel 13, the US is particularly anxious to hear back from Egypt and Jordan, the two countries which have full peace treaties with Israel and are reported to also be intended beneficiaries of the billions of dollars in aid that the US is hoping wealthy Gulf states will be willing to pledge at the Bahrain summit on June 25-26.
Netanyahu has told Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon that if and when the invitation from Washington does arrive, the latter would be Israel’s representative at the conference.
The Palestinians have already dismissed US President Donald Trump’s peace plan and said they will not attend the Bahrain summit, rejecting it as heavily biased in favor of Israel.
While Jordan, Egypt and other Arab countries have yet to respond to their invitations, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have announced that they will be making the trip to Bahrain.
But while Qatar has agreed to participate in the workshop, Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani clarified Sunday that his country would not support any proposed solution to the conflict that the Palestinians do not accept.
“As far as we see, right now there is a disconnect between the Palestinians and the US,” Reuters quoted al-Thani telling reporters in London. “Our position remains very firm: We are going to support any plan that the Palestinians are willing to accept.”
The remarks came a day after The New York Times published an interview with David Friedman in which the US ambassador to Israel said that some degree of Israeli annexation of the West Bank would be legitimate.
“Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank,” the ambassador asserted, in remarks castigated by the Palestinian Authority.
In a separate interview that aired on HBO last week, Kushner indicated he is uncertain whether the Palestinians can be trusted to govern themselves following a peace agreement with Israel.
Kushner, who is one of the chief architects of Trump’s as-yet-unveiled peace plan, conceded he doesn’t expect the Palestinians to trust him, but claimed that “there is a difference between the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian people.”
His remarks came as it was reported that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in private talks last week, acknowledged that parts of the peace plan might be “unexecutable,” could fail, or may be dismissed out of hand by either the Israelis or the Palestinians.
Asked if he believed Palestinians are able to govern themselves without Israeli involvement, Kusher said, “That’s a very good question… The hope is that over time, they can become capable of governing.”
Kushner said Palestinians, who want full statehood, “should have self-determination.” But pressed as to whether, following a peace agreement, the Palestinians would be completely free of Israeli intervention, including military, Kushner indicated he doubted that would happen. Israel wants to maintain control over the border with Jordan, even following a peace agreement with the Palestinians.